A familiar saying goes: “I don’t get mad, I get even.” Unfortunately, some Christians adopt this attitude, not only when they are wronged but also when they perceive an injustice done to someone else. Those who talk about justice today often seem more interested in revenge.
The fact that some in the Corinthian church opposed Paul did not mean that he had no supporters there. In verses 5–11, Paul encourages his supporters not to withhold forgiveness from an unnamed person who had grieved Paul and the whole church. He does not specify what this person had done, but the fact that some in the church viewed it as a personal affront to Paul suggests that it was not the erring brother mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:1.
Whatever the nature of his offense, the apostle urged the church to “forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (v. 7). This is the aim of church discipline. The goal is not to get even with those who have sinned but to restore them to fellowship with God and others. Reconciliation is the reason Jesus told His disciples to go to those who sinned against them and point out their sin in private. “If they listen to you,” He explained, “you have won them over” (Matt. 18:15). When we do not extend forgiveness and restoration to those who repent, we allow Satan to spread bitterness and sow discord (2 Cor. 2:11). We also act hypocritically by refusing to treat others as Christ has treated us.
Using the imagery of a conquering general who returns home in triumph, Paul declares that God “always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (v. 14).
>> Too often, we want to punish those we should be persuading. Forgiveness isn’t a failure. It is a victory. Is there someone you need to confront about sin? Go to them today.
God of justice, forgive us for treasuring our hurts and grievances. Soften our hearts as we confront those who have sinned against us; soften their hearts to repent. Please restore our fellowship.